Why Do Dogs Pull

Dogs pull in order to go forward. Dogs desire to interact with their surroundings, and they may find people to be slow. Being restrained by a leash and attached to a person is not a “a characteristic of dogs.

Several dogs will inevitably “when they sense pressure on their collars, they lean in and lean forward. Walking with a loose leash is a difficult technique that calls for patience, forethought, and perseverance.

How do I get started?

All dogs require a lot of daily mental, physical, and social stimulation. Leash walks on a regular basis may aid in mental and social stimulation, but they rarely fully satiate a dog’s demand for physical activity. Make sure the dog’s daily needs are being satisfied before attempting to teach him how to walk on a loose leash.

For the majority of dogs, wellbeing includes unstructured exploration and calm walks in peaceful surroundings. Before beginning, keep the following things in mind:

  • Has my dog engaged in any strenuous play or exercise today? This could be done in a secure fence or on a long line (avoid retractable leashes and use fixed-length leashes between 15 and 50 feet long).
  • Has my dog gotten a chance to smell, saunter around, and engage with the surroundings today? This might occur in a lengthy line or in a securely fenced space.

What equipment does my dog need?

Select a leash that is 6 to 10 feet long and is comfortable to hold. It should be wide enough to prevent friction burns on your hands even if the dog pulls, but narrow enough to be comfortable and light weight for the dog to wear. For unconstrained safe exploration, you’ll also need a long linea leash, preferably one that is between 15 and 50 feet long. Retractable leashes should not be used since they can cause significant friction burns to both people and animals.

If you decide to use a collar, pick one that is flat, plain, and fitted such that you can fit 2-4 fingers between it and the dog’s neck. The collar must be secure enough to prevent the dog from slipping it off of his head. A collar is not the best option for your dog if it pulls vigorously, till it coughs or has noisy breathing, or if it can overpower you or physically unbalance you.

To stop a dog from tugging, training collars like slip, choke, prong, or electronic collars all rely on inflicting pain. The collar hurts the dog’s neck when the leash is too tight. The agony stops when the leash is relaxed. If the collar is successful, the dog learns to maintain a loose leash in order to avoid discomfort.

These collars have the following drawbacks:

  • The discomfort must be severe enough for the dog to cease pulling. Some dogs won’t stop pulling until the discomfort is very bad. When we are establishing a trustworthy and positive relationship with our pets, training without suffering is a top concern.
  • Heavy strain on the collar, especially training collars, can cause injuries in some dogs.
  • Some training collars don’t have a restriction on how tightly they can close, which increases the risk of the dog becoming entangled and strangulated.
  • There is a chance that the dog will identify the pain with what he was looking at or approaching when the leash was tightened if we tighten the training collar when the dog is pulling toward a person, another dog, or anything else in the environment. This may increase a dog’s fear of, or aggression toward, people unfamiliar with them, other dogs, or outside stimuli.

For many dogs, an appropriately fitted H-style or Y-style harness can be an excellent tool. Only while the dog is on a leash should the owner wear a harness. How to choose a harness:

  • It is simple to wear and take off.
  • Chafing is not a result of it.
  • There are no straps across the front of the shoulder, allowing the shoulder joints to move freely. Pay special attention to “Pull harnesses should be avoided since some models may harm the shoulder by pressing on the front of the joint.
  • The dog cannot reverse and unbuckle the harness. Some dogs with deep chests, like Greyhounds, could require a “safety double-H harness
  • Leashes can be fastened to a dog’s body in at least two locations: between the dog’s shoulder blades on the back and between its front legs, just below the neck.

Head collars fit like a halter around a dog’s nose and ears. Head collars can provide more control, particularly when a large, powerful dog is handled by a smaller or less physically fit person. The introduction and selection of a head collar must be done with caution. Dogs don’t typically wear stuff on their faces! A dog must be gradually taught to accept a head collar, and not all dogs are suitable candidates. A second leash should be attached to a harness or neck collar while utilizing a head collar as a safety precaution. The safety leash is useful because if a dog lunges rapidly and collides with the end of the leash while wearing merely a head collar, the leash could pull the dog’s head forcefully to the side, putting undue pressure on its neck.

How do I get started and how do dogs learn?

Like every animal, dogs act in a way that “works. They will keep doing things that produce positive or significant results. When attempting to alter or enhance a dog’s behavior, it is important to take into account what the action achieves from the dog’s perspective and how to adapt the event in question so that the dog’s behavior will improve.

The “A-B-C” technique can be useful when trying to figure out why the dog is walking a certain manner.

A = Action. The action in question is pulling, but there are possibly other behaviors present as well!

Consequence is abbreviated as C. What occurs either during or right after the pulling? This is the “outcome seen through the dog’s eyes.”

Making a training plan is figuring out A, B, and Cand and thinking about how to change A and C so B changes. Each training program will be particular to the dog and the family, but the majority of tugging may be stopped or stopped using a positive reinforcement-based training method.

Keep in mind that your dog alone has his own eyes to see the world. Despite being restrained, he can see what he wants. From the dog’s perspective, it might be beneficial to strain in the direction of travel. Let’s examine the A-B-Cs for pulling in the direction of another dog.

From the dog’s point of view, in this illustration, pulling works well to get him closer to what he wants. One way dogs communicate their need for space or attempt to eject a human or animal from it is through barking.

Begin with a well-prepared dog in a peaceful setting, such as inside your house or in your yard. Bring along plenty of small, tasty snacks, as well as your dog’s preferred toy if it enjoys playing with toys.

Attach the leash to your dog and maintain silence. Watch for even the smallest amount of leash slack. When the leash is relaxed, say “Yes!” to your dog and swiftly give him one or two delicious goodies. You can either put them in his mouth or drop them close to your foot. You point them out and encourage him to eat them in an upbeat, enthusiastic manner. Repeat this method by moving one or two steps forward.

Initially, using enticing may be beneficial. Luring is the process of getting the dog to follow a treat while doing a certain task. Hold several treats at your dog’s nose level in a closed fist next to your leg. Deliver one reward every two to three seconds once your dog’s nose has become magnetized to the treats. Start out by taking little, frequent steps while walking the dog as long as it stays close to you and the leash is slack.

Have a term or phrase that conveys the message “Walk with me! Common possibilities are “Let’s Go!” “Let’s Walk!” and “With Me!” uttered in an upbeat, joyful tone. Say the cue in a cheerful tone as soon as you can start a lovely, loose-leash stroll for a few steps at a time. The cue indicates that benefits for strolling with a slack leash are available.

B = Dog takes a few steps on a loose leash (or more as the dog develops his skills).

C = Environmental advancement with regular tasty rewards for being close to the owner.

What should I do if my dog pulls?

C = You stop or move a short distance away from the intriguing object, wait for any indication of a loose leash, and then promptly reward as described above.

Move further away and try again if your dog still cannot turn away from the distraction.

Ideally, it would look like:

C = The point of interest is getting closer, and tasty little gifts are getting delivered here and there!

Leash walking techniques can be honed in group training for life skills and leash walking. Attending a group training session in a structured setting enables a qualified trainer to assist you in mastering timing and to regulate the quantity and kind of distractions your dog learns to navigate while maintaining a loose leash. Most dogs need several months of consistent practice before they can learn to walk on a loose leash. Leash walking is the subject of entire books, online courses, and in-person courses lasting at least 8 weeks!

How do I handle lunging and barking?

Additional assistance is required for dogs that lunge to the end of their leash, bark, or furiously try to chase or approach humans, moving vehicles, bicyclists, or other animals. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation of a qualified trainer and behavior consultant for specialized coaching.

Due to their fear, some dogs lunge or bark. Others can’t contain themselves because they are overexcited. Others might feel the need to go hunting or chasing. The personalized training program must be customized for the particular dog based on the seriousness of the behavior and the underlying motivation.

Why does my dog continue to tug at the leash?

One of the benefits of dog ownership is taking your dog for regular walks. You go outside with your dog, mingle with the locals, and get some exercise. This pleasure is quickly lost when your dog pulls on the leash.

Why Do Dogs Pull On The Leash?

Dogs pull because humans move more slowly than they do. Your dog is eager and ready to go when you leave the house to go for a stroll! He wants to explore the neighborhood and take in all the sights, sounds, and smells. Sadly, not many of us prefer to move as swiftly as dogs do.

Dogs also repeat behaviors that bring them rewards. Walking, exerting a lot of effort, and occasionally even running are all thrilling. Additionally, he gets to go somewhere when he pulls. This is gratifying once more.

Your dog isn’t straining on the leash to assert his authority or to try to do so. He only wants to investigate.

Prevent Pulling

The only foolproof solution to stop tugging is to never walk your dog, but that is not advised. Eliminating walks for your dog is simply not a good idea because there are so many advantages to them.

Many chest harnesses are advertised as “no pull harnesses.” These don’t educate your dog not to pull, but depending on how they’re made, they might be able to temporarily lessen the amount of tugging so you can undertake some training. Make sure the harness you choose isn’t hurting your dog before purchasing one. It shouldn’t exert pressure on his neck’s base or over his joints.

Training Teaches Your Dog Not to Pull

Your dog’s need to pull goes away when everything that is wonderful happens to him when he is on a loose leash. Finding several items that can motivate your dog is the first step. Along with some tasty goodies, other options include a tennis ball, squeaky toy, or tug-of-war toy. Feathers can be an obsession for certain dogs.

Step outside for your first workout session. Stop when your dog reaches the end of the leash. Become a statue by keeping the leash’s handle tight to your body. Praise your dog and say, “Hey, yeah, I’m here!” as he comes back to face you. A good boy! and provide a gift or toy. You are appreciating his focus on you. In fact, you might only take a few steps during this first training session rather than going for a real stroll. That’s alright.

Great when you reach the stage where you can take a few steps after practicing for a while. If the leash tightens as you move forward and your dog doesn’t pay attention, turn around and move in the opposite direction. Just turn around and walk instead of jerking your dog off his feet. Praise him and give him a reward or toy when he catches up to you. Reward him once more for paying attention to you.

Since their senses are more interesting than the person holding the other end of the leash, many dogs pull when being led. Put your phone aside, focus on your dog, and teach him the behavior you want.

What Not To Do

Leash should not be tightly held. We know that dogs will pull against a tight leash even while choking themselves, despite the fact that scientists are still divided on whether or not they genuinely have an oppositional response. Don’t support that awful behavior. Instead, take the opposite tack and move away from him, or turn into a statue.

It is impossible to walk on a slack leash inconsistently. His leash abilities will never be good if you urge him to walk politely on sometimes while ignoring him and letting him pull on other occasions. Keep in mind that he pulls because he enjoys and benefits from walks. He needs something more intriguing than the grass you’re sniffing.

Dr. Kenneth Martin, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist, and/or a veterinary technician who specializes in behavior have reviewed and revised this article. LVT Debbie Martin