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How to train your dog from pulling on leash

Leash pulling is one of the problems many dog breeders have to deal with. Although at first sight it may seem like an easy fix, you will only get really good results if you systematically change the dog’s habits. The first thing to do is to find out why the dog is pulling on the lead, and then you can take action.

Why does a dog pull on the lead?

The world is a very interesting place, and a dog is eager to explore it as soon as possible. Moreover, dogs by nature tend to walk faster than humans, so it is not surprising that the leash gets tight during a walk and sometimes it becomes too difficult for the owner to keep the dog close to him. When the dog sees an object of interest, it runs to it without blinking and the owner rushes after it. This is where the problem lies – the owner allows the dog to behave in this way, and eventually pulling on the lead becomes a habit. It is best if the dog is taught to walk without pulling on the lead from a young age, but an adult dog can also be taught good manners.

Choose the right leash

If you use a retractable leash, it is natural for the dog to learn… to pull. The dog doesn’t know when it should slow down or stop – it just keeps going forward until finally the latch no longer allows it. Retractable leashes are dangerous for many reasons: a dropped reel can frighten or injure the dog, and the leash cord can cut the owner’s hands or feet if the dog makes a too abrupt manoeuvre. Once the dog has learnt to walk without pulling on the lead, a retractable lead can also be an excellent choice, but until then a plain lead of around 3 metres should be chosen.

The rules are set at home

If you want your dog to get used to pulling on the lead, it’s a good idea to teach your dog that it can’t dive through the door with its head upright. If he is in a hurry, he simply does not go outside. You can do a very simple exercise: sit the dog by the front door and ask him to wait. Open the crack in the door. If the dog rushes through the door, it simply does not go anywhere, and then when it calms down and stays in one place, it can be allowed out. The door may have to be opened and closed many times the first few times, but sooner or later the dog will surely realise that it can only go out when it is completely calm. It is important to teach the dog that when he is very stormy, he gets nothing, and only when he is calm can he expect the most pleasant things.

Zero leash tension

Teach your dog that a tight leash does not bode well. If he rushes to a bush of interest, the bush will start to move away as the owner simply turns away and changes direction. The same applies to all objects without exception – including people the dog wants to greet, other dogs, etc. Only when the leash is loose can the owner lead the dog to greet people or dogs, allow it to sniff an object it likes, etc.

The leash should not be allowed to be continuously pulled tight during the walk. If this happens, the owner should stop and wait for the dog to make its own decision. If the dog looks at the owner (or comes back), then the dog gets praise and a treat.

It is useful to use a “yes” marker, “yes” marker, or other short word to indicate that the dog is behaving appropriately during a walk. Try to make sure it always sounds the same (a clicker can be used instead of a verbal marker), and give the dog a reward after the marker (the marker should be followed by a reward no later than 3 seconds later – be quick and accurate). Always have treats (or normal dog food) available during walks and every time the lead is loosened, say the magic word and reward the dog. The pet will surely realise that a tight leash does not lead to good things, but a loose leash gives extra tasty morsels.

Teach your dog to walk alongside

Although this command takes some time to learn, it is definitely worth teaching it to every dog. It will definitely come in handy when you want to get past people, dogs, etc. First, take the treats in your hand, show them to the dog, and lure him near your left leg. This is the starting position for learning to walk side by side. Hold the treats close to the dog’s muzzle (not too high and not too low), walk, praise the dog and occasionally give a treat (you can also learn this command with the pate in the tube – the dog can lick it all the time as you walk, so you don’t have to think about when and how to give the reward).

When your dog learns to follow the hand with the treats, every few steps raise your hand, lower it, and only then give the treat. If the dog does not jump up when you raise your hand and does not get distracted, congratulations – you are on the right track in learning this command.

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