Jump Start to Leash Training Your Dog Not To Pull

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by jtclough on August 4, 2010

Pulling on the leash and stopping to sniff repeatedly are two big factors in people not getting started with an exercise and fitness lifestyle with their dog.

Exercise for you and your dog are essential to living to your fulfilled potential on a daily basis so please enjoy the first coaching session (part 1 of 3) on training your dog to stop pulling on the leash while walking or running with you.

Breaking down the steps of any new practice can make the end result come quicker.

We have become accustomed to expecting the end result as a finished product within a couple of days, rather than breaking down the process in steps and perfecting each step progressively.  When your dog pulls on the leash all you can picture is a wish that your dog walked or ran nicely beside you.  It becomes one big jumble and the thought that there are steps to re-training your dog don’t even occur to most people.

Leash Training The First Session:  Leash Length

One of the most important steps to training a dog that has a habit of pulling on the leash is to shorten the leash to 2 or 3 feet at the most, depending upon your dog’s size.  When your dog is given the full leash length several temptations occur that set up a no win situation for your dog.

First, when letting your dog have the full leash length you have physically told your dog to hang out at the end of it.  You have set up the situation from the get go allowing your dog to push the envelope and automatically lose it on all the smells!  No clear boundary is set up for your dog to even know where the line of comfortable should be.

Dogs have a sense of smell that finds many more individual odors to take in compared to humans.  It is why canines are used as search dogs instead of training humans to locate people, narcotics or bed bugs with their noses!  It is no wonder they go completely A.D.D. quickly and lose focus.

Many people get hung up here on feeling like they are taking away one of the big joys of life for a dog.  Constantly sniffing is nothing more than a habit of distraction, keeping your dog away from any type of focused energy.  A calm balanced dog has focused energy.

Think about it.  There are many things that can distract you while driving.  Does that mean you can just let yourself become more engulfed in texting, talking on the phone, or finding a movie on the dvd player for the kids because you find it fun?

No.  Same should be true with your dog.  After all, I’m sure your dog gets way more play time in the day than you do!

You teach yourself to become focused on the task at hand.  Applied to your dog, this is walking or running on the leash without stopping to sniff or pulling on your arm without regard to the irritation it is causing you.

How much should the leash be shortened?

This is a matter of what is comfortable for you.  The idea is not to have your dog in a perfect heel next to your side, but instead with a 2 to 3 foot leeway around your leg, knee and foot.

How should I hold the leash?

Refer to the video above again even if you have already watched it.  Take note not to wind the leash around your hand several times but instead make a loop so you are holding just two lengths of the leash in your hand.

Wrapping the leash all around your hand several times is dangerous.  The purpose of looping your leash is only to show your dog the right distance to be away from you.  The idea is not to have your leash shorter so you can hold onto your dog tighter.  A loose leash is the concept you are looking for.  As a safety factor you also want to be able to quickly drop the leash should you be unexpectedly pulled hard enough to take you off your feet.

Old habits are hard to break.

Remember when you start something new it’s not always easy.  Training your dog to walk or run on a loose leash is going to be a matter of retraining yourself too.  The habit of training yourself not to pull on your dog is where the difference comes in training your dog to see this picture differently.  Neither of you should be pulling.

Dogs do what works.  If you pull on the leash, your dog is going to pull on the leash.  It has become a game.

The next coaching session to leash train your dog will take you and your dog along to the next piece of the perfect leash trained dog.  Before you go on to that training session (for those of you who have subscribed it will be delivered directly to you in a few days) practice the simple step in the video above.

Loop your leash and show your dog where to be.  Reward in the moment for holding that spot.  Start this practice without walking.  Then take a couple of steps and repeat the process.  You are building the foundation for an end result.  Be patient!  And stay with our  coaching sessions.  You’ll be running with your dog on a leash in no time.

Leash training questions, challenges or successes?

Great.  Put them in the comments below or send them directly to us.  It’s like having your own personal coach.  We’ll get back to you!

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1 Lori October 5, 2010 at 8:01 am

Nicely done! I’ll gladly direct my students to this article!

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