Ever wonder why some people just struggle to stop there dog pulling, even though they have been to many training classes. Lack of time of course is one reason, if a dog has not been taught from a puppy to walk on a loose lead, it take a lot more time, effort and dedication to correct this behaviour and lots and lots of patience!
However there are a number of reasons why dogs pull on the lead:
We pull first
Pulling against a dog that is pulling away from you is counter productive, if you pull them back they will pull forward it is as simple as that. This is why techniques like jerking on the lead or simply pulling them back, makes them pull away from you and sometimes even pull more.
We take control
If we dictate their every move on the lead, insisting on being at heel, correcting the position manually or constantly stopping them sniffing, they again will fight against you to get to the sniff that they want and in fact need, dogs get a lot of information from sniffing and stopping them can cause frustration and even anxiety. There needs to be a compromise between us and our dogs without them having to drag us.
Wants to get home
If your dogs is pulling on the way home, it is could be that either your walk is too long or see point 8 your dog is not enjoying the walk.
To get to something
Is your dog one that walks nicely until they see a cat, squirrel, person or another dog. 9/10 times this is because of how we handle the lead, over time you can trigger the behaviour because by pulling them back, you make the target much more interesting then it really is. Like toddlers you take something away from them they want it even more. We pull the dog away sometimes before they have even seen the stimuli.
If dogs learn that pulling gets them where they want to go and we follow them, this is standard advice because yes of course the behaviour get rehearsed, however I always look at what they are pulling for. Taking your dog out when you are rushed, means you are more likely to encourage pulling as the dogs feel pressured into just walking and can potentially put them in a sense of fight or flight. Pulling to the park gets them to the park is another saying. Often this is also because the park has become more rewarding than the journey to the park or that it’s more relaxing for them there away from busy loud traffic for example.
Too short a lead
If you walk your dog on a short lead, a lead you wrap round your hand or even standard length leads, do not allow the dog enough freedom to explore as much as they need to, so some dogs learn to pull quickly and shoot across you just to get that sniff they are longing for.
Your dog just the same as other people, walks at a different pace than you. Your dog has four legs you have two, your dog has to learn to match your pace and that’s difficult, this is why during lead walking training, they often drift forward to their natural pace. You try keeping up with someone that walks faster or even slower than you, you will not sustain that pace for long!
Ill fitted or poorly designed dog walking equipment like harnesses, can cause discomfort due to rubbing or preventing relaxed strides, it is like a pair of uncomfortable shoes this can trigger dogs to pull to relieve the pain. Getting the right harnesses is key see my blog poorly fitted harness blog
and another two often overlooked reasons…
Commonly these dogs pull on the way home, pull past busy places, pull anxiously when other dogs/people/or traffic is approaching. Dogs that are scared of noises are often ones that pull, like they want to get the walk over as soon as possible. Fear on walks is something that should be addressed professionally, fear and stress can have long term health implications and effect behaviour, seek help from a professional behaviour advisor.
Dogs that have an injury, pain or discomfort can often find trotting or walking fast relieves the pressure. Dogs do not show injury or pain easy, pain has to be at about a 6 to see something like limping and about 10 for them to Yelp. Often the first sign of pain is behaviour change.
You see, pulling on the lead is not just about training, the above points are just some of the many factors that you need to consider when working on lead walking.
This is why lead walking techniques like, jerking, luring them back into position and changing direction, does not work for a lot of dogs. Not all dogs and I would actually go as far as to say most dogs are not happy walking to heel either and you know what it’s not necessary for a dog to walk to heel, or and asking them to be on the same side all the time can cause imbalances in the body as they are always look at you one side and not the other causing tension in the neck back and more and guess what they can be in front of you as well, it does not mean the dog is being dominant. Your walk should be a compromise between you and your dog, learn how to help him cope when anxious and work on a good loose lead walking technique that allows your dog to sniff and explore what they want but with out them pulling/dragging you down the street to do it.