Many dog owners face a serious problem whenever they are taking their dog for a walk. As soon as any distractions appear, the dog starts pulling on the leash to get where he wants to get. And guess what usually happens? Dog owners follow wherever their dog is pulling. In fact, now the owner is not leading his dog, but the dog is leading his owner!
Your dog is pulling on the leash just because he gets rewarded for that. When you follow the dog where he is pulling you, you actually reinforce more pulling in the future. Therefore dog owners themselves are actually causing this common dog behavior problem.
Step 1: Stand Still
First, your dog must never again be rewarded for pulling on the leash. When you take him out the next time, do not let him lead you. As soon as the dog starts pulling the leash, stop immediately and stand still. Make it clear that your dog will not get anywhere by pulling the leash. Sure, you will not walk too far when you first start using this technique but remember that now your primary objective is to stop the annoying pulling habit.
Step 2: HEEL and Keep Walking
When the dog does not get anywhere by pulling the leash, he will turn around to see what is wrong. At this point, you could use the HEEL command to invite your dog to walk next to you. When your dog obeys and is no longer pulling the leash, reward him immediately. Resume walking, praise the dog and give him a little treat. Keep walking as long as the leash remains slack. If the dog starts pulling again, repeat this exercise as many times as necessary.
Step 3: Turn 135 Degrees
If your dog keeps pulling on the leash even when you have stopped, turn by 135 degrees and start going that way.
Do not go exactly the opposite way, but go away from your dog diagonally. That way the dog will have no other choice than to stop pulling and follow you.
Step 4: Stop for Distractions
Occasionally there will be some distractions that your dog is really interested in. If your dog starts to pull the leash to get to such distractions, immediately stop moving. But once your dog has returned to you, reward him by going where he wanted to get so badly. You must show your dog that he will get where he wants to if he does not pull on the leash.
Step 5: Train to Walk on Right or Left Side
Once your dog no longer pulls on the leash, you can start training him to always walk to the right or the left side of you. Just reward the dog with a little treat whenever he is walking where you want him to be walking, and keep praising him as long as he obeys. Use a command such as HEEL to tell your dog when he should be walking right next to you.
Step 6: Now Lose the Treats
When the dog starts to obey your commands consistently, stop giving him the treat every time, now do that sporadically instead. However, you always want to praise your dog verbally to show him when he is doing the right thing.
It may take a while to break a long-lived leash pulling habit, but it is definitely manageable if you are consistent and persistent. Once you start using these leash training techniques, you must never again let your dog pull you where he intends, or your training efforts will be wasted. But if you are consistent, positive results will be inevitable and your dog will become well-behaved when walking on the leash.