Lassie

Dogs pulling on leash

Do you recognize the feeling? Your hand hurts, your mood is letting you down, and you might even tug on the leash to signal your dog to stop pulling so hard. Seconds later, it's the same show again and frustration is a fact. Relax. You're not alone! Walking nicely doesn't come naturally to a dog and is something that requires a lot of training. Starting when the dog is a puppy will save you a lot of time.

Patience

Start by accepting the current situation. It's no wonder the dog pulls on the leash, it's just not a natural thing to walk on a leash. Breathe. And breathe again, because your patience will be tested. Here are some tips on how to train your dog to stop pulling on the lead in a pleasant way. Don't forget that this type of training should be fun for both of you. Think of this as a journey you will take together, towards a common goal.

Choose the right leash

Start by reviewing your equipment. Of course, your dog should have a harness or collar that is comfortable and ergonomic. Just as you want to wear comfortable clothes when you exercise, it's just as important that your dog has the right equipment and feels comfortable. Choosing the right dog leash is important, so choose carefully. 
When it comes to leash training, there are better and worse types of leashes. Something that works well for leash training is a fixed length leash of around 2 metres. This is the right length and is neither too short nor too long. If the leash is too long, you risk losing communication, and if it is too short, the dog will not have enough space.
We can recommend leashes from Poly Canine, which has developed leashes made from braided boat-tape. These are designed to withstand high stresses from the boat and also the elements. The braided surface of the rope creates less friction which, thanks to this, makes the leash burn less in the hand. All their leashes are just 2 meters long and also easy to clean with some warm water.
Use the code LASSIE20 for a 20% discount on their dog leashes.

Sentiment

It's not just your own mood that should be right, but of course the dog's too. It may be a good idea to start by practising something that will get your dog calm and focused before you go out, such as search or contact exercises. It's also a good idea to walk your dog before it's time to get started. Your own frame of mind is just as important. If you're having a bad day, hungry, grumpy or irritable as we all can be at times. On those days it may be better to skip training. A poorer mood often means poorer patience. And if there's one thing you need when leash training, it's patience! Remember that jerking the leash, beating or anything unpleasant has no place during training, or any other time for that matter. Leaving your mobile phone and headphones in your pocket during training and giving your dog full focus should be taken for granted.

Reward in abundance

You should always reward desired behaviour. In this case, a slackened leash is cause for reward. If the dog is about to, or has started to pull on the leash you should not reward. Rewarding can mean many different things, it all depends on what works for your dog. It could be treats, or playtime, or a toy. Always make sure you have your reward ready in your pocket so you can quickly reward your dog. At the same time, show your dog that you are the most fun you can be. It should be fun for your dog to be near you.

What should I do when my dog pulls away?

When your dog starts pulling on the lead, which he most likely will, you should stop and stand perfectly still. This is where patience is key. Stand perfectly still and ignore the fact that your dog is trying to pull you forward. Continue to stand still and be consistent with this. As soon as the leash goes slack, it should be rewarded and you should encourage your dog with all the energy you have, then YOU choose which way to go. If two seconds later your dog is still pulling on the leash (as he probably will at first), stop again and stand perfectly still until the leash goes limp. This is something you will need to repeat lots of times, but as long as you are consistent with this, you will soon see results.
Do you see your dog starting to fall into a yo-yo pattern when you stop. That is, the dog pulls -> you stop -> the dog comes to you -> you start walking again. Then the best method is to simply turn the heel and walk in the other direction as soon as your dog reaches the end of the leash. Then you can also reward your dog with a treat as soon as he is at your side.

Different training equipment

You won't always have the energy to train, so it's a good idea to use different equipment that says "do what you want" and "now we're on the leash". It's beneficial to use an ergonomic harness when your dog is allowed to do as it pleases on the walk and a soft, wide collar when you're leash training. This is a way for you to be able to take your dog out without training every time. That said, you'll get there faster if you only do leash training and don't vary.

Make walking fun

By being exciting and unpredictable on walks, you build your relationship. You shouldn't see the walk as something you have to do just to get the dog to pee. Let the dog search for a treat once in a while, play around and take a walk you don't usually do, vary! Sitting on a bench and just cuddling for a while and talking to the dog will also strengthen your bond. 
Most importantly, have fun!
Also remember to practice eye contact, rewarding your dog whenever he seeks your gaze during the walk. Also remember never to jerk your dog's leash, curse or get angry and irritated. It will only worsen your relationship. The key is to have fun together, and accept that the dog won't always do exactly what you want.

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