Is Your Dog Taking YOU for a Walk?

by Mindy Kaleta on April 23, 2013

Taking Don for a Walk, Puppy Scents, The Kids' Guide to Puppy Care, pg.40

Taking Don for a Walk, Puppy Scents, The Kids’ Guide to Puppy Care, pg.40

Taking Your Dog for a Walk Doesn’t Have to Look Like This!

If this is you, then Jeni’s question on my facebook page may be YOUR question as well!

QUESTION: “How do I keep him from pulling, especially when we leave for the walk and when we are coming back?”

Well, Jeni…pulling on leash is always annoying and makes for a not-so-fun walk with your pup! For this one, patience and practice are going to be your two operative words!

OK, you get the leash on and you’re ready to go, but the pup has  his nose to the door so close that you can’t even get the door open! I remember those days! Now, we both know that he is probably just so excited to go, but seriously, pulling on the leash can cause some damage to you and your arm socket if your puppy is allowed to continue this. Especially as he grows larger and stronger! The same goes for when you are ready to return home and he’s excited to get back home as well!

There are a couple of things going on here:

  1. Your pup is exerting his own will (wanting to get outside and that’s all he’s thinking about!!) over yours and making sure that you come with him!
  2. And if you comply…he’s just learned that he can do that again and he may try it with other things which moves him up in rank.
  3. He’s not listening to you, looking to you as his leader nor is ready to spend time with you on the walk because he truly has his own agenda. And his agenda is okay, he wants to play…but if he really wants to spend time with you and take a walk, he will need to understand how YOU wish to take a walk. And if him pulling your “arm out of the socket” is not how you wish to spend the walk, he needs to learn that.

So, to get control of this issue here’s a few tips:

  1. You will need a soft collar or harness.  A harness does help to keep from having too much pressure on his tiny trachea, but even this little pup may end up looking like a snow buddy and pulling even harder.  If using a collar, make sure it is high on the dog’s neck, just behind his ears so that he can’t slip out of it.
  2. If he indeed has his nose to the door, say, “back/sit” to give him some distance from the door, so you can open it without him being underfoot. You may have some resistance at first, but you can offer a treat over his head to get him in the “back/sit” position. Once he is still, you have the door open and you are ready to go, praise him for being a “good dog!”  and offer him the treat. Once you are both ready say, “Let’s go!”
  3. If he still goes charging out and pulling you, just STOP.  Stand like a tree.  Don’t move. If he is still acting a bit crazy, you can move toward him gathering the leash a little at a time, until he has very little leash in which to work with. Once you have his attention, just look down at him in your tree position as if to say, (more for yourself, because it keeps you in the right frame of mind) “You going to stop pulling now?  If not, we can just stand here, but it won’t be much fun! If so, Let’s go!” When he is settled down…go again. Repeat…as many times as it takes, until he gets it. It may take awhile. Some learn quickly and others test your limits. No emotion.  Have patience and practice, practice, practice.
  4. Another interesting thing to do when he is sniffing, pulling and tripping you up is to just spin on your heel and walk the other direction. When he realizes that you aren’t going the same way he is going, say (again, more for yourself, because it keeps you in the right frame of mind) “What are you thinking? Try to keep up little buddy!”
  5. Be sure to take a few treats with you just in case he’s unusually high and out of control. Getting your pup’s attention is really what we are after here.  Making sure that he is taking the lead from you as to how fast you go, where you go and when you will return.  If you practice, practice, practice…you will soon see that he is more than willing to watch you and pay attention because he will find that you take him more often than if he decides to make it tough for you!

A Handy Little Tool for Pulling on Leash!

The Gentle Leader Head Collar

The Gentle Leader

“Dogs have an opposition reflex which encourages them to pull even if they are choking.  Unlike traditional collars, the Gentle Leader places the pressure on the back of the neck instead of the front of the throat. This shift in pressure location allows the Gentle Leader to take advantage of the opposition reflex.  Your dog will instinctively lean back into the pressure when the leash is tight from pulling. This will decrease pulling and remove unsafe pressure from the dog’s trachea.

Where the nose goes, the body follows! That’s why head halters are used on horses – it takes very little strength to control a large animal by the head halter vs. the collar. The head collar works in the same way, allowing you to gently direct the head in the direction you want it to go.”  taken from the Gentle Leader training guide.

And as an added bonus, you don’t need to keep the leash taut, in fact, it works better if you give them some slack and allow them to walk with you effortlessly, but if he veers off, you can gently lead him back and most times with only two fingers on the leash!

Jeni…I hope that you find this helpful with your dog Linus! Here’s to you both, Happy Walking!!

If you have any questions about what we’ve just covered or would like to connect with me daily on facebook or would like to subscribe to my blog for tips-on-the go in your email box, just go to Mindy Kaleta on facebook and/or www.MindyJKaleta.com and opt-in!

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