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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My dog is a very big Doberman who unfortunately has not had much leash training or walking in general. I have been trying to leash train him recently and he is learning slowly but surely. What I've been doing is stopping when he pulls and making him wait to walk until I am next to him, but he still pulls (only now he waits for me to walk next to him only to pull ahead again!) My question is which method would be better for a dog of his breed and size? Should I stick with what I am doing or switch up my method?
Hello Vee, I actually would suggest a different method entirely for your situation. Check out the article that I have linked bellow and follow the "Turns" method from that article. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Specifically, as soon as Reese starts to put his head in front of your knee, turn directly in front of him at a ninety degree angle. Turning in front of him should not only help him learn what position to walk in but should also adjust his attitude and show him that he needs to be following and not leading. There will be times when you cannot do this. During those times, do what you are doing now, but work on the turns as much as possible. Fields, parks, and other open areas are the easiest places to practice this. I find that turning while I am crossing over a driveway while on a walk in a neighborhood is a bit easier than doing it on the sidewalk. Practicing this in a neighborhood cul-de-sac is also easier. Do not expect walks to be very linear while you are working on this. Your walks might be a lot of circling and going back and forth and that is okay. If your whole walk takes place in your driveway, front yard, and cul-de-dac for a while your dog should be just as hired because he will be focusing the whole time and moving still. Just keep in mind that you are putting in the work now to create a lifetime of enjoyable walks with him later. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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LadyBug has never been leash trained! Where do i start? She dosen't even "sit"!
Hello Ella, First, if LadyBug is not comfortable even wearing the leash, then spend about a week just clipping it to her collar and letting her drag the leash around your house when you are supervising her inside, to get her used to the sensation of it. After she is comfortable with that, then pick up the end of the leash and follow her around wherever she wants to go. When she is comfortable with that, then while you are following her, periodically put a little bit of pressure on the leash and hold it there to get her to come toward you. Expect her to pull against this and possibly even thrash around. Wait until she calms down and gives up fighting it, and then coax her over to yourself with a treat or a toy. As soon as she moves toward you and makes the leash loose again, then praise her and give her the treat or a toy. Expect for this to possible take her a long time at first. Simply be patient. It could take up to thirty minutes the first time. After she moves toward you and receives the reward, then keep the leash loose and follow her around some more, and after a little while, repeat tightening the leash a bit and encouraging her to come toward you. Repeat following her around and periodically tightening the leash. Do this until she will consistently come toward you when she feels pressure on the leash. Once she has learned what a leash is and how to handle the pressure of it, then you can start to teach her how to "Sit". Here is an article on how to teach sit: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-golden-retriever-to-sit After you have gotten her used to the leash and have taught her how to "Sit", then you can move onto one of the methods in the training article: "How To Teach Your Dog To Walk Calmly On A Leash" or one of the methods found in this training article bellow instead: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-large-dog-to-not-pull Once she knows how to walk on the leash and to sit, then I would encourage you to teach her "Down", then "Come", then "Stay", and then whatever else you would like for her to learn. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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WE have a retired Greyhound. Our Doug is a gentle loving dog and is very well mannered. Doug walks very well on leash. He is polite and minds all commands. Our problem is getting the leash on him and getting out the door. As soon as he hears the leash picked up, he goes nuts. He is wild as we try to clip the leash on and as we try to get out the door. AS soon as we are outside, he is calm and mannerly again. What do you suggest?
Hello Jeff and Paula, I suggest making the leash very boring during practice sessions, and rewarding him for sitting (or a Stand-Stay if he struggles with sitting like some Greyhound do because of how they are built). Go through your usual routine with getting ready for a walk and grabbing the leash. When he gets excited, ignore him unless he is calm, until he calms down. If he doesn't calm down, then put the leash away and take your off shoes again. Do this several times a day. After lots of repetitions, he should get less excited when he sees the leash because he doesn't think he is really going for a walk. Him being calm will give you an opportunity to encourage the calm behavior more often. When he is a bit calmer when you get the leash out, tell him to Sit or Stand and Stay. If he obeys, give him a treat and clip the leash on. If he starts to get wild, drop the leash and walk away until he calms back down. When he is calm again, pick up his leash and start to leave for a walk with him again. Practice making things boring when he gets overly excited by going through your walk routine without actually leaving. Practice having him sit or stand-and-stay when he is calm enough to obey (if he doesn't know one of those commands, then teach him that first). Finally, practice clipping the leash on and taking him on a walk while he is staying calm. Don't expect perfection at first, but as he gets better, you can require him to be even calmer before you reward him by taking him on the walk. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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