You’re out on a pleasant walk through the countryside, the sun is out and life is good, but every 5 seconds you’re pulled in every which direction by your old, but surprisingly strong dog. The problem is even worse if he sees a dog on the horizon, or a stranger approaching. Are you finally ready to concede it’s time to get a handle on his pulling? After all, it’s better late than never!
Walking with a dog who can’t control themselves on a leash is simply exhausting. You simply can’t relax on a walk when it’s really him walking you. Plus, you may have aged along with him, and your shoulder sockets and arms simply aren’t as resilient as they once were. You don’t want to be pulled to the ground just because a dog crossed the road 100 meters away. Solving this issue will give you the calm and relaxing walks you deserve!
"Heel" is one word that could save you considerable aggravation and make the relaxing dog walking fantasy you once had many years ago a reality. Unfortunately, teaching your dog to walk calmly on a leash is never straightforward. His senses are sent into overdrive when he leaves the house and comes across so many varied and often unpleasant smells.
The problem is worsened if he is old. Puppies respond to training quickly, but older dogs' bad habits have often cemented over the years, so you have an uphill battle ahead. Having said that, with patience and consistency, you could have a calm and well-behaved dog trotting alongside you in just a few weeks, if you follow the methods below. It’s important to finally get a handle on his behavior on a leash, not only for your sanity, but also to prevent a serious accident ever taking place, such as him leaping across a busy road.
Before you get going with training, you need to ensure you’re fully stocked on doggie treats. You can use pre-made treats, or you can simply break his favorite food into small bits. You will also need some quiet space, free from distractions.
A secure training leash and possibly a harness will also be essential. Aside from that, bring all the patience you can find and an optimistic attitude. With all that, you're ready to get to work.
Now you’re fully stocked on essentials, it’s time to put him on a leash and address that mischievous behavior.
When I walk Jojo, she doesn't pull on the leash for our entire walk. But when we pass by other dogs, she seems to get pretty aggressive. Any tips? Thanks!
Hello Justin, Does JoJo act aggressively when she actually meets dogs also? Many dogs act aggressively when on the leash but not when interacting with dogs up close. Those dogs have what is called Leash Reactivity, and it is often caused by frustration or fear rather than true aggression. For Leash Reactive dogs you can work on making dog sightings more pleasant. To do this, whenever you see a dog from far away, before JoJo reacts poorly, praise her in an upbeat tone of voice and offer him a treat for remaining calmly or looking at you for direction. It is important for you to stay far away from the dog for her to know that it is there but still remain calm. You do not want to reward her rude barking and growling behavior but she also will struggle to learn when she is in that excited state. Practice bringing her around other dogs at a distance often. As she improves then you can very gradually decrease the distance between you and the other dog. The other thing you can do is to teach her a very structured heel, where she has to remain right beside you and focused on you. When you approach another dog then have her follow you closely in the heel position while you make a lot of turns, have her do sits and downs, and change your speed often. If you can picture a drill Sargent commanding his cadets, that's the attitude that you should have. It should be fast paced, alert, and you should mean business. When she is busy heeling in such a structured fashion, she should not be able to focus on anything else. You will still need to experiment with the distance with this. She can likely get closer to other dogs doing this than the treat protocol but too close will prevent her from being able to focus on you. This practice is good dogs who struggle with leash reactivity and less dangerous forms of dog aggression.
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