Leash manners (or lack thereof) are one of the primary reasons pet owners seek assistance from a professional trainer.
Why is this such a common behavior problem? In any individual instance, one or more of the following contributing factors may be at play:
- The relationship is damaged – the first step of teaching loose leash walking is teaching your dog that you are fun to work with. When dogs begin to associate being attached to a leash with an aversive experience (leash pops, etc.), they may pull just to get as far as possible away from the source of their discomfort.
- They are faster than us.
- They are untrained. Walking politely on a loose leash is a learned, rather than innate behavior for all dogs. If you expect it, you must teach it.
- Opposition reflex.
- It works! Pulling on the leash gets dogs where they want to go! When training puppies who do not have strongly established pulling histories, often stopping on the leash as soon as it is taught and simply waiting for the puppy to choose to remove tension from the leash will prevent a pulling problem from occurring.
Here is a video of me working with Cuba when he was a puppy, basic exercises teaching him that at my side is an interesting and exciting place to be where he will likely get lots of yummy treats! (Was he ever really that little?! Goodness, how he has grown.)
Try some of these exercises with your puller, and stay tuned for future videos on loose leash walking techniques. If you need in-person training assistance, consider applying for one of our great foundation classes or private lessons where you can get one-on-one assistance in building better leash manners.
Happy training until next time!
Head Trainer, Rewarding Behaviors Dog Training
Trustee, APDT Board of Directors