Teaching Your Dog to Stop Pulling on the Leash
By DCSPCA Canine Lead Trainer Jodi
Working on loose leash-walking with your dog is important to keep them from pulling when you are on a walk.
To begin loose-leash training, find a low-distraction environment to work in. Maybe even your garage or backyard so that the dog can focus.
Using a 4- to 6-foot non-retractable leash, start walking forward with your dog. As soon as the dog hits the end of the leash, stop in place. Do not lean forward or yank the leash. Instead, think of yourself as a tree—solid and unmoving. Wait. Ignore your dog until the moment your dog makes any movement that causes the leash to loosen, even slightly. Most likely they will turn around to see why you are not moving. Praise in a happy voice and/or give them a treat, and take another step forward.
Take as many steps as you can before the leash again tightens. Stop! Wait for your dog to loosen the leash, praise, proceed.
Do not move forward unless the leash is loose. This will take what seems like F-O-R-E-V-E-R to walk 10 feet but stick with it. This teaches the dog that yielding to the leash pressure gets them praise and a reward.
Each time your dog checks-in with you (check-in = turns to give you eye contact) on walks, offer a treat and verbal praise. Dogs that are paying close attention to their handlers are less likely to pull out in front of them. Talk to your dog to encourage check-ins, sing them a song, or make a kissy sound. Provide as many opportunities as you can for your dog to look up at you and be sure to give him a treat and praise for their check-in.
Practice when your dog is tired. Early on, you’ll have greater success after your dog has expended any pent-up energy and can focus.