Have you ever taken your dogs to the dog park and found that they are actually taking you to the park? They lead the way by tugging and pulling you. Basically, your dogs are walking you rather than you walking your dogs.
Unfortunately, tugging and tugging can quickly become an ingrained habit that becomes harder to break as it develops over time. It can cause harm to both owner and dog alike. For dogs, it can damage the dog’s windpipe. For dog owners, it can put them in harm’s way – like being pulled towards traffic on a busy street.
For this reason, it is essential that every owner take the time to train their dog to follow rather than lead them. After all, you’re responsible for their safety and health, so it’s up to you to make sure that they perform properly, especially when on their leash.
Effective Ways to Stop Your Dog from Pulling and Tugging
1. Use a body harness
It’s important to note that tugging on a collar is a danger to dogs on a physical level. Due to their determination to be a pack leader, they are going to tug with the full force of their body in order to be in the lead. What happens is that a collar will dig into their neck, restricting the airway (trachea) and causing slight damage. While it may start out as coughing and wheezing, over time this can wear down their airway, especially with larger dogs that have more weight to tug with.
For this reason, the use of a body harness will help during the training process. These are relatively inexpensive – usually about the cost of a collar, and will displace the force of the leash across their chest rather than solely on their neck (it’s still necessary to use a leash for their tags and license).
Be sure that it fits your dog snugly and won’t chafe them, such as in areas under their legs. If the harness has a metallic buckle, consider using a cloth or tape to secure it so that it doesn’t strike their chest or flanks when they’re moving around; this becomes more of an issue when there’s too much slack in the harness.
2. Stop, turn and go
While you’ve addressed your dog’s well-being, it’s still necessary to get your dog to stop taking you for walks. So, stop and think about why your dog is tugging in the first place. Basically, a dog is going to move in the direction where they think you are going (they just don’t have the patience to wait up for you and your two-leg speed). They see the destination and basically want to get there in a hurry. For most of us owners, we tend to just go along with them, but this only enforces the fact that perhaps they are in charge right now.
In order to stop this behavior, the best place to start is when your dog pulls, you stop. This will leave your dog tugging against you, but they won’t be able to move on. Another good technique is to change direction regularly. If they’re tugging forward, stop, turn around and go the other direction.
Start out on the sidewalk, where there is no apparent destination for them to see or note. Start walking in one direction and when they begin tugging, stop and move in the other direction. Do this several times until they begin to wonder where it is that you’re going. They’ll eventually begin to wonder what’s going on and look to you for the answer. This is exactly what you want to happen. In order to stop the pulls and tugs, you need your dog to focus on staying with you rather than getting to the destination as quickly as possible.
- 3. Use commands and treats
The preceding process can also be associated with commands, such as “stop” or “stay” when you stop. If you stop, give your dog a command to “halt” or “stay with me.” This will help them associate the fact that they need to pay attention to you because you have the answers they’re looking for. Additionally, the use of a treat will help incline them to listen to you during the initial stages of training. But you will want to eventually wean them off treats and for them to respond to you on command alone.
Next time you take your dog out for a walk, be sure that you’re the one leading the expedition. With a little training and the right tools to ensure their safety, you’ll be able to take charge of your dog and guide them instead of them dragging you along for the ride.
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