Do you have a big dog who would prefer to walk you than for you to walk him? I do. Her name is Maya. She is a yellow lab with lots of energy and it has been a challenge trying to get her to walk without pulling my arms out of my sockets. But with lots of time and patience, we are making progress. I admittedly spoiled her when she was a puppy and did not spend a lot of time making her walk properly on a leash. So when she got over 70 lbs, I had a difficult time with her.
Now we walk almost every day. And every day she makes a little more progress. Here is what I am doing to help her learn to walk on a leash without pulling:
1. Keep treats in your pocket and give your dog one every now and then when they are walking properly.
2. Give your dog praise when they are walking well. No need to stop and pet them, just give them the “good” word(s) that you give them whenever they do good. Or if you use a clicker, give them a click. (Generally clicks are followed by treats.) When Maya does well, I say “Good, girl”.
3. If your dog pulls, stop walking. You can even take a few steps back. When you stop and/or take a few steps back, your dog is going to turn around and look at you to figure out what is going on. Once your dog stops pulling, start walking again. It may take a long time to get anywhere with this method, but they will get it sooner or later.
4. Try the Gentle Leader or other similar “gentle” product. It may take some time for your dog to get used to wearing it, but once they get used to it, it works great. If you buy a Gentle Leader, they have some very helpful tips for helping your dog get used to it.
5. Don’t use one of those retractable leashes when training your dog to walk on a leash. This encourages your dog to pull. And don’t use prong or choke collars. These can do damage to your dog’s neck and throat and they only teach your dog to walk properly when they are wearing them. Should you ever decide to walk your dog without them, your dog will pull. Wouldn’t it be better if you could get your dog to walk by your side no matter what sort of collar they wore?
These are just a few tips which have really helped me with Maya. We still have some work to do, but she is definitely getting better. Just remember, proper training takes time and patience but it is very rewarding.