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3 Steps To Stop Leash Pulling

When out on a walk, a little bit of leash pulling generally isn’t the end of the world. For many though, it becomes a real problem when the pulling is happening the entire time and happening with a lot of strength behind it. If you love walking but don’t love being yanked around, practice these 3 steps. 1. Provide a physical outlet first It’s hard for dogs to walk at our pace when they're full of energy. Many dogs want to get out and move quickly from one thing to the next. Being on leash slows them down and because of that, causes a dog to pull. If you are able to spend 10-15 minutes giving your dog a chance to run, you’ll notice that it’s a bit easier for them because of that outlet. You can try fetch, roller blading, biking or an at home lure course set. 2. Reward all the good There are different ways to reward your dog for walking while maintaining a loose leash. One is with food. If you’re giving your dog food while the leash is loose and you’re noticing an increase in loose leash walking then you’re successfully reinforcing the behavior. Generally you’ll need to reward quite often at first and then you can start to stretch it so that you’re getting more steps in between rewards. The “higher value” the food the more likely it is that you’re going to be successfully reinforcing the behavior too. Another way to reward the behavior is by giving access to things in the environment. When walking, allow your dog to stop and sniff things. This is great in general for them because it provides mental enrichment. The other thing is that the vast majority of pulling is caused by these things dogs want to investigate. Once you can successfully leverage those things you’ll have a pretty peaceful walk where your dog is not pulling because that is the best way to get to the next reward. 3. Provide feedback if the pulling starts Focus on what you’d like to happen of course, but what about if pulling starts? What should you do? At the very least you’ll want to plant your feet and not allow your dog to get any closer to the reward. (Whatever they’re pulling towards.) From there, get their attention back and try to continue heading in the direction. If the leash remains loose, go ahead and give access as the reward. You can also mix in food rewards to help get to that destination. If stopping isn’t working, your next best option is to go the other way. This will take you and your dog back where you’ve already been. This means it’ll be less exciting and less of a reason to pull. If things are going well you can then invite your dog to go back in the more exciting direction and continue with the steps listed. The good news is that this is very teachable. The bad news is that it can take weeks or months to get to the point where the pulling is infrequent or relatively non existent. If you want to get there, the best thing to do is practice daily. If your practice takes place in the same environment, you’ll start to see a change. You’ll then need to practice this skill in new environments.

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